Everglades National Park

Alligators, manatees, mangroves, and much more: the huge and extremely diverse Everglades National Park is one of the most extraordinary landscapes in the world. Take a seat in an airboat and join us on our discovery of the spectacular nature in southern Florida!

Everglades National Park Facts

Location: Near Homestead, Florida, USA
Size: 5,700 km²
Visitors: about 600,000 per year

What is Everglades National Park?

The Everglades is a unique and highly sensitive ecosystem in Florida that exists at the boundary of fresh and saltwater. They extend from Lake Okeechobee in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. However, Everglades National Park does not protect the entire wetlands, but only about 20% of the area at the southeastern tip of Florida.

The Everglades are often mistakenly referred to as a swamp. In fact, they are a combination of grasslands and a very slow-moving river. The latter is fed by Lake Okeechobee and moves peacefully toward the ocean. The Everglades are therefore also called the "River of Grass."

The climate in the Everglades

The climate in Everglades National Park is subtropical. If you go to the south of Florida in the summer, you have to expect heat, high humidity, and heavy rainfall. Average temperatures climb above 30 °C from June to September. Between April and October, there is also a risk of hurricanes hitting the country. Winters are mild and rather dry, with average temperatures ranging from a pleasant 22 °C to 26 °C.

History of Everglades National Park

The first settlers probably arrived in the Everglades region about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. They were Native Americans of the Tequesta and Calusa tribes. However, they settled along the coast and rarely stayed within the wetlands.

In the late 16th century, Spanish settlers reached southern Florida and established their missions near Lake Okeechobee. As a result of disease, wars, and captures, both the Tequesta and Calusa tribes disappeared from the area around 1800.

In the early 19th century, the Seminole Nation was formed by runaway slaves and various North Florida Indian tribes. The Seminole Wars followed, with the result that the Seminoles were forced to relocate to the US state of Oklahoma in 1842. To escape this fate, many Seminoles fled to the region of what is now the Big Cypress National Preserve in the northern Everglades, where they lived, and in some cases still live, in relative isolation.

Beginning in the late 19th century, European Americans established several settlements along the coast as well as hiking trails and the road through the Everglades to Flamingo.

In 1916, Royal Palm State Park was established near the town of Homestead, which included some hiking trails and a visitor center. The Tropical Everglades National Park Commission was formed in the 1920s to review the establishment of a protected area covering large portions of the Everglades. The US House of Representatives approved the creation of the Everglades National Park in 1934, and President Truman inaugurated it on December 6th, 1947.

Traveling to the Everglades

To get to Everglades National Park, you can use several transportation options:

By airplane

The US state of Florida is a popular destination for vacationers from all over the world. Accordingly, there are multiple airports around the Everglades offering international connections. They include the airports of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and Key West.

The most important one among them is Miami International Airport (MIA), where about 46 million passengers arrive or depart each year. If you want to travel to the Everglades from Europe, it is likely that you will arrive there. Direct flights to Miami can be found with Lufthansa from Munich or British Airways from London Heathrow. If you book a few weeks in advance, you can get your flight tickets for about €450.

Upon arrival in Miami, you will find numerous car rental offers at the airport to start your Everglades exploration.

By train

With the train, more precisely the East Coast Railway, you can cross the entire US state of Florida. The route always runs along the east coast from the city of Jacksonville in the north to Miami in the south.

By car

If you travel to the Everglades by car, the fastest way to get there is to take US Highway 1, which runs along the US East Coast, e.g., it also takes you to Miami and Key West.

In Homestead, south of Miami, you can exit onto State Highway 9336, which later turns into Main Park Road and runs through Everglades National Park, taking you to the coastal town of Flamingo. As you follow the road, you'll reach several visitor centers from where you can join an exploration tour of the National Park.

Visiting the Everglades

There are a total of five visitor centers in Everglades National Park:

  • Shark Valley Visitor Center: on Highway 41
  • Gulf Coast Visitor Center: in Everglades City
  • Ernest Coe Visitor Center: State Highway 9336 near Homestead
  • Royal Palm Visitor Center: on State Highway 9336, about 6 km from Ernest Coe Visitor Center
  • Flamingo Visitor Center: in Flamingo, end of Main Park Road

The Visitor Centers serve as a source of information and starting point for your exploration tour through the Everglades. You have several options for your adventure:

Airboat tour

When you think of the Everglades, I'm sure the iconic airboats with their huge propellers come to your mind. Visitors can use them to explore the vast expanses of water. There are three approved companies for airboat tours in Everglades National Park: Coopertown, Everglades Safari Park, and Gator Park. The propeller-driven airboats are noisy, however, so you're unlikely to see any alligators when riding them

Paddling with kayak or canoe

You can explore the Everglades at your own pace using a canoe or kayak. The small boats not only offer the advantage of combining nature observation and workout, but you are also completely free to choose your route through the waterways and admire the wonderful nature around you.

Tour with excursion boat

You can also get to know the Everglades on a trip with a larger excursion boat. The 90-minute tours depart several times a day from the town of Flamingo in the far south of the Florida peninsula. The "Everglades Backcountry Whitewater Bay Tour" takes you along the Buttonwood Canal to the mouth of Whitewater Bay. Another option is the "Florida Bay Boat Tour" that will lead you from Flamingo Marina to Florida Bay, where you will see numerous species of birds and marine life.

Hiking trails

You can experience the Everglades National Park not only from the water but also on a hike. In fact, there are a variety of great hiking trails that take you across the most beautiful landscapes on elevated wooden paths. The most popular trails are called Anhinga Trail, Gumbo Limbo Trail, Pinelands Trail, Mahogany Hammock Trail, and Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook.

Photo expedition

With so many great motifs, who wouldn't want to become a passionate nature photographer? With providers like Get Your Guide, you have the opportunity to book special photo expeditions. Under the supervision of a guide, you'll get the best opportunities to perfectly capture the landscapes, bird species, and many other wild animals of the Everglades with your camera.

Cities near the Everglades

Do you want to combine your outdoor exploration with a city trip? Then you should also visit the following places near the Everglades:

Homestead

Homestead, a city of 80,000 south of Miami, is the closest town to the Everglades. US Highway 1 to Key West, State Road 997, and the Florida Turnpike run through Homestead. By the way, from here, you can not only quickly reach the Everglades but also the coral reefs of Biscayne National Park.

Miami

Florida's dazzling metropolis Miami is located about 70 km from the wetlands. It is known for dreamlike beaches, culinary highlights, and lively club culture.

Key West

Key West, the southernmost point of the USA, is a paradise for diving or snorkeling in crystal clear waters. There is hardly any other place in the United States as perfect for watching the sunset with a cocktail in your hand.

Fort Myers

The city of Fort Myers is located on the west side of the Florida peninsula directly on the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the historic downtown, you can visit the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, the Imaginarium Science Center, and the Southwest Florida Museum of History.

Cape Coral

Cape Coral is located right next to Fort Myers. Here, you can make yourself comfortable on one of the beautiful sandy beaches or have fun in the "SunSplash Water Park."

Top highlights of the Everglades

You don't want to miss the most beautiful highlights of the Everglades? Then make a note of our top five on your travel list.

Anhinga Trail

The more than 1.2 km long Anhinga Trail is the most famous hiking trail in the Everglades. It starts at the Royal Palm parking lot near Florida City and leads you over wide boardwalks through the swampy landscape. During your hike, you can stop at several viewing platforms from which you can observe the wildlife. By the way, the trail is named after the Anhinga, the typical snake-necked bird of the region.

Wilderness Waterway

The approximately 160 km long Everglades Wilderness Waterway stretches along the west side of the Florida peninsula from Flamingo to Everglades City. The navigable waterway, which connects several rivers, lakes, and bays, is ideal for tours with motorboats, kayaks, or canoes. If you want to paddle the entire waterway, you should plan on at least eight days. But don't worry, along the waterways, you will find numerous campsites and beaches where you can take a break.

Flamingo

In the former fishing village of Flamingo on the Gulf of Mexico, you will find the most famous Visitor Center in the Everglades. Here, you can camp, picnic, fish, and go on various boat tours into the wilderness of the Everglades.

Shark Valley

About 35 km from Miami, Shark Valley stretches along the Tamiami Trail. On a 4 km round trip through the inner Everglades, you can observe up to 2,000 different animal species. Along the way, you'll also pass the 20-meter-high Shark Valley Observation Tower, which offers a magnificent view of the Shark River Slough and Saw Grass Prairie.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve is part of the Everglades region, but it is not within Everglades National Park but slightly north of it. A detour is worthwhile because you will find the highest biodiversity of the Everglades here. For example, the preserve's mangrove forests are home to the rare Florida panther, the Florida black bear, and several species of alligators and snakes.

Animals and plants in Everglades National Park

The Everglades is best known for its diverse and unique wildlife. The vast wetlands are home to so many species that you'll have a hard time deciding where to look first when you're out exploring.

Among the icons of the national park are, of course, the American crocodiles and alligators. While you can encounter alligators throughout the park, the small and highly endangered crocodile population lives exclusively in the saltwater along the coasts.

You will be very impressed by the manatees: the gentle giants often stay in very shallow water near the coast. Other wildlife you may encounter include panthers, raccoons, and turtles.

Everglades National Park is also known for its great variety of (rare) bird species, which includes more than 350 different types. You can observe the American darter, flamingos, ibises, pelicans, cormorants, roseate spoonbills, herons, and storks, among others.

Just as exciting as the wildlife of the Everglades are its plants. Expect large prairies of seagrass, bizarre cypresses, mysterious mangrove forests, colorful orchids, and much more.

And don't forget: Watch out for the snakes, spiders – and of course the mosquitoes!

The best photo spots in the Everglades

Your Instagram followers will love the results of your Everglades photo tour! These are our five hotspots for great photos:

  • Anhinga Trail
  • Big Cypress National Preserve
  • Shark Valley Observation Tower
  • Flamingo Visitor Center
  • Aboard an airboat

Fun Facts Everglades

You probably didn't know these interesting facts about the Everglades:

  • There are about 80 species of mosquitoes in Florida. 43 of them can be found in the Everglades National Park. Therefore, it is best to always pack an effective insect repellent!
  • The highest point in Everglades National Park is only 2.4 meters above sea level.
  • The Everglades provide drinking water for about eight million people. That's about one in three Florida residents.
  • The Everglades is the only ecosystem in the world that is home to both alligators and crocodiles.
  • The Burmese python, native to Southeast Asia, is spreading throughout the Everglades. The invasive species has already caused major damage in Everglades National Park, as the snakes kill native singing birds, small mammals, deer, and even alligators.

FAQ Everglades National Park

Do you feel like you still don't know enough about Everglades National Park? Check out our FAQ to get the answers that will help you plan your trip:

When is Everglades National Park open to visitors?

Everglades National Park is accessible year-round and 24 hours a day through the main entrance in the City of Homestead. The entrance at Shark Valley is open every day between 8:30 am and 6 pm.

What is the entrance fee to Everglades National Park?

Admission to Everglades National Park will cost you $ 30.00 per car or boat and $ 25.00 per motorcycle. Coaches and vans are charged between $ 75.00 and $ 200.00 for admission. If you are a pedestrian, bicyclist, or paddling, you will pay $ 15.00. Furthermore, there are group rates for young people (e.g., church groups, scouts) and discounts for seniors and military personnel.

Tickets can be purchased online or at a Visitor Center and are valid for one week from the time of purchase.

Are there season tickets for the Everglades National Park?

Yes, there is an annual ticket called Everglades National Park Annual Pass, which you can purchase for $ 55.00. The pass is available online and is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.

Is camping allowed in Everglades National Park?

Yes, there are several campgrounds in Everglades National Park, such as Long Pine Key Campground and Flamingo Campground. You may use a campground for a maximum of 30 days per calendar year. Between November and April, the peak camping season in the Everglades, you must reserve a campsite for a maximum of 14 consecutive days. During the summer months, reservations are not required.

Are pets allowed in Everglades National Park?

Pets are allowed in Everglades National Park grounds only on public roads, parking lots, as well as the larger campgrounds and picnic areas (Flamingo and Long Pine Key). Dogs must be on a 2-meter long leash.

However, you must not take your pet on hiking trails, wilderness campgrounds, or into wilderness areas.

What else do I need to be aware of in the Everglades?

Swimming and snorkeling are prohibited in all canals, lakes, and boat basins within Everglades National Park. It is also strictly forbidden to feed the alligators. Heavy fines may be imposed for this. When observing wildlife, you should generally keep a safe distance of 4.5 m to 6 m.

Are there restaurants and stores in Everglades National Park?

Generally, we recommend that you stock up on plenty of provisions before your trip to the Everglades. The possibilities to buy something in the park are limited: you can purchase snacks and drinks at the various Visitor Centers, and in Flamingo, Everglades Guest Service also operates a food truck.

More National Parks in the USA

The USA is full of breathtaking national parks! For your further expeditions through the land of unlimited possibilities, we recommend a visit to the breathtaking Grand Canyon, the infamous Death Valley, or the beautiful Yosemite National Park. Or would you prefer to immerse yourself in city life? No problem, world-famous metropolises like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas are waiting for your visit!